Jim Gonyea, 47, an IT program coach who lives in Cherry Valley, Massachusetts
Rob Lajoie, 50, a graphic graphic designer who lives in Leicester, Massachusetts
Chris Lapierre, 46, an electronics technician who lives in Sturbridge, Massachusetts
This consultation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Julie Beck: How did you three first touch and become friends ? Jim Gonyea: Rob and I met in college, through a common acquaintance. I don ’ metric ton remember the person who introduced us, but 30 years later, I ’ m hush friends with Rob. We had a bunch of the like interests, like music and Dungeons & Dragons. possibly 15 to 20 years ago, Rob met Chris through the Dungeons & Dragons game. He introduced Chris to me, we got to know each other through that game, and then 12 years ago, we all became Freemasons. Chris Lapierre: I saw an ad that Rob had posted at a game shop, and joined the game he was running. I kind of squeezed myself into Rob ’ s group of friends. I ’ ve got to say this about overcharge : He collects people. He is a central figure of so many different groups. It ’ randomness pretty impressive. I ’ megabyte not as outgoing. Rob very gets people talking about things in animation, and future thing you know, you ’ re hanging out with his early friends. Jim: Rob is the person who got both Chris and me into the charge that we belong to and into the Masonic fraternity. Beck: How did you become interest in joining the Masons ? Chris: I had a pretty severe accident when I was 9 years old. I was badly burned. I went to the local hospital, but person in township [ who was a Mason ] made call calls and I was transferred to Shriners Hospital for Children in Boston, which is world-renowned for its cut treatment. I don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate know if I ever met this guy. I spent a calendar month there, and it was such a plus experience from something so hideous. I wanted to give back. That was my inspiration to learn about Masonry. When I was a young person without a lot of money, I put it off, thinking it must be very expensive. then later on, I saw a Masonic funeral service in a church. They line astir around the walls and pay their respects to their fallen brother. It very hit me as an authoritative event. A few years late, Rob got involved. I think he knew I wanted to join, and once he was in, he was like, “ Hey, you need to come join my lodge. ” Rob Lajoie: Jim and I studied doctrine and comparative religion in college. We constantly had questions around Freemasonry—What was it about ? What did they do in the buildings ? Years went by, and then they had a campaign in Massachusetts—they were going to do open houses at the unlike lodges. You could go and talk to the members a bit. I think that drove both of us to see what was happening at the lodge and investigate about connect, independently of each other. We each came to it on our own. Jim: I picked up on it individually, but at one steer, Rob reached out to me and said, “ Hey, you remember all of our discussions way back then about Freemasonry ? Well, guess what I equitable did ! ” He told me that he joined and asked me if I was interested, and of course I was .Jim Gonyea, Rob Lajoie, and Chris Lapierre at the Joel H. Prouty Lodge. (Courtesy of Jim Gonyea) Beck: What year did you guys join ? Was it approximately the same time ? Jim: Yeah, 2007. Rob joined in January, I joined a few months by and by, and then Chris joined right after me. Beck: How do you get in ? Do you fair apply ? Are there certain qualifications ? Chris: Because it ’ s a fraternity, you have to be a male. You need to have a impression in God. It doesn ’ t need to be a certain religion adenine long as you have a impression in a higher power. You have to apply, then you go through a background check, and you provide references. A committee will be sent out to investigate that applicant—make surely that the person is truthful, is looking to join the fraternity for good reasons, and doesn ’ t have any ill will toward the brotherhood. There ’ s a lot of conspiracy stuff out there. When you ’ re actually in the fraternity, there ’ s no conspiracy going on. Beck: Have you all seen National Treasure ? Chris: possibly there are some kernels of truth in that, but it ’ s a movie ; it ’ sulfur sensationalized. There is a batch of history tied to the fraternity. Beck: cipher stole the Declaration of Independence ? Chris: not to my cognition. Jim: Between clientele meetings and degrees for initiating newly members, there ’ s not a batch of time to go out and steal the Declaration of Independence .Rob Lajoie (center left) and Chris Lapierre (center right) with fellow Masons in 2009. (Courtesy of Jim Gonyea) Beck: Can you explain to me what Masons actually do ? When I think of Freemasonry, I precisely think of charity and secrets. Jim: Masonry itself is an fable of the build up of Solomon ’ s Temple. It ’ sulfur designed to teach a man moral principles. In Masonry, there are three degrees. The degrees are called accede apprentice, companion craft, and overlord Mason. They are very alike to the concepts in a union or deal group of the apprentice, craftsman, and master—because Masonry adopted a bunch of its structure from the previous mason guilds of chivalric times.
The degrees [ each ] have initiation rites. Anybody who ’ s been a member of a college fraternity has gone through this sort of matter. In the initiation ceremony, there ’ south no violence ; there ’ randomness no wyrd gorge. All of the officers who perform the initiation ceremony are doing it from memory. Each degree is designed to give a candidate an mental picture of [ what goes on in ] Freemasonry and a certain measure of moral teaching. Rob: The intention behind putting so a lot prison term into the memorization is then that every new member has angstrom close to the lapp demand experience as possible, no count where they ’ re getting their degrees or what lodge they ’ ra joining. then that becomes a shared alliance with everyone in the fraternity, no topic where you come from. Jim: We don ’ triiodothyronine teach people a sealed doctrine ; we ’ re not a religion. We ’ re a brotherhood that ’ s trying to teach men to be more moral men. Chris kept mentioning the Shriners ; in club to become a Shriner, you have to become a Mason. The Shriners do the Shriners Hospitals. Our lodge does charitable work with a young person and family service group. A draw of what we do is fair lead worry of the early members. every year we visit the widows of the brothers who have passed away .Rob Lajoie, Chris Lapierre, and Jim Gonyea’s portraits hang in the Masonic lodge—they each served as Master of the lodge, one after the other. (Courtesy of Jim Gonyea) Beck: so if I joined the Masons, how would I spend my time ? Doing charitable employment, socializing, studying readings that I ’ m given ? Jim: We don ’ t actually give people stuff to read. once people become Masons, they ’ rhenium welcome to have a replicate of the ceremony to learn themselves. A lot of what we do is equitable full people hanging out with good people. We hang out at our lodge build every week. Anybody who ’ randomness new is invited to attend our rehearsals [ for ceremonies ]. then we have the charitable exercise that we might do—food drives and material like that. You can put in ampere much [ time ] as you want, or a little. Beck: Can you describe a typical weekly suffer ? Rob: During the summer in Massachusetts, many lodges will shut down. Our lodge actually remains assailable, and we hush meet every Tuesday night. During the summer, we ’ ll get together and figure out, do we want to stop somewhere to get food or cook a meal for everybody ? sometimes we ’ ll do some rehearsals during summer ; a lot of times we ’ ll just sit down and play cards. During the other months, we ’ ll typically have a meal before the business meet. then we ’ ll go ahead and discuss paying the bills and plan different events. After the meeting, we ’ ll head down, have a bit of dessert, and if there ’ sulfur time, we ’ ll play some cards or merely enjoy each other ’ s company. Beck: If it did, how did joining the Masons change your friendship ? Rob: I don ’ thyroxine know if [ Masonry ] changed it therefore much as it provides a weekly night out where we get to see each other. This is besides true with Dungeons & Dragons. It ’ s a reason to go out and physically be with friends. I say physically because nowadays [ friendship ] seems to be getting less [ physical ] with everything being on-line. Jim: When I first had kids, I was identical focused on the family goal of things, and I didn ’ thyroxine go out and interact with Rob angstrom much as I had previously. I in truth started to withdraw and drop the friendship. It picked back up for a while when I was introduced to Chris. then I got into calculator scheduling, which took up a fortune of time, and I have a three-hour change, on average, every sidereal day. Between commuting and long hours at work, you don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate prosecute with people. You get home, you ’ rhenium tired, and you don ’ t inevitably want to go out. Having the lodge—that shared space—and that need to physically go out, it ’ randomness reinforced things. We spend more time in concert than I think we otherwise would have. Beck: How many people are in your lodge ? Jim: We have possibly 15 or 20 guys who show up on a regular footing. Our sum membership roll is about 150 .The Joel H. Prouty Lodge in Auburn, Massachusetts. (Courtesy of Jim Gonyea) Beck: How do you feel about having the lodge be a male-only space ? Has that been an advantage, having that in your life ? Jim: I ’ ve spend a batch of time thinking about this. Two things that get guys into trouble oneself are politics and chasing women. In Masonry, we ’ ra not allowed to talk politics, we don ’ thyroxine talk religion, and we ’ ra not competing over the affections of the diametric sex. Masonry gives guys an opportunity to be around other guys without having to deal with politics or contest. One of the things that we like to teach people is that the only contest in Masonry is to see who can be the better person. There ’ s no machismo going on ; it ’ second not like a cabinet room. It ’ s more adult conversations in a identical loose and relaxing standard atmosphere. Rob: My wife knows where I ’ molarity going ; she knows I ’ thousand going to be around a group of actually great guys. She ’ s met about all of them. She knows that the focus is not only on improving ourselves, but besides on helping out others in the community. For me, it ’ second having a night out where she doesn ’ t have to worry about anything. Beck: Is there anything that you have learned through your have with Freemasonry that changed how you think about friendship and residential district ? Chris: right after I joined, I was helping out a colleague who was truly struggling at Christmastime. I convinced another colleague to [ help ], and he was like, “ You know what ? ever since you became a Mason, you ’ re a better person. ” I constantly thought I was a reasonably good person anyhow, but to hear person recognize the change in me—I was pleasantly surprised. You ’ ra tell, “ You ’ re a victor Mason ; you need to act as such. ” It changes you in that sense. Jim: much like Chris, I guess I do hold myself to a higher standard now. The other thing that I have found is that because we can travel to other lodges and meet modern people, it ’ south easier to make newly friends. If I meet person who ’ s a Mason, I automatically have something in common with them.
Rob: If you ’ re surrounding yourself with thoroughly people who have the greater community in mind, it builds on itself. If you ’ re surrounded by people who are always talking about how to improve things, it rubs off on you. It ’ s not zero-sum—rather, everyone improves. If you or person you know should be featured on The Friendship Files, get in allude at friendshipfiles @ theatlantic.com, and tell us a bit about what makes the friendship unique .
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